Nation's Best Collide Saturday
Oct. 2, 2009
Courtesy Stanford Athletics
Saturday, Oct. 3 - Stanford, Calif.
- vs. - No. 2 UCLA (9-1, 1-0 MPSF) - 10:30 a.m.
STANFORD, Calif. - The Stanford men's water polo team (8-0) returns to action Saturday at Avery Aquatic Center as the top-ranked team in the nation for the first time since 2004, and will put that ranking on the line against the No. 2 UCLA Bruins (9-1, 1-0 MPSF) in the Cardinal's conference opener at 10:30 a.m.
About The Opposition
UCLA heads back to Avery Aquatic Center for the second time in three weeks this Saturday after turning in a runner-up finish on The Farm at the NorCal Tournament over the weekend of Sept. 19-20. The Bruins (9-1, 1-0 MPSF) suffered their only loss of the 2009 campaign to Stanford in the tournament title game by a score of 6-5, and will be looking for payback in the MPSF contest between the two Saturday. UCLA got its conference slate off to a winning start by capturing a 10-4 victory at home over UC Irvine last Saturday, as seven different players scored in the win. First-year head coach Adam Wright guides a Bruin team that is led offensively by the scoring of Josh Samuels (17 goals), Cole Consani (14 goals) and Scott Davidson (14 goals) and in the cage by goalkeeper Chay Lapin (5.60 saves per game, 3.30 goals-against average).
Last Time Out
Stanford last saw action two weeks ago, when it captured the NorCal Tournament title at Avery Aquatic Center by defeating UCLA 6-5 in the championship game on Sept. 20. The Cardinal claimed victories of 16-3 and 15-9 over UC Davis and Pepperdine, respectively, on the first day of the draw to earn a place in Sunday's semifinals, where Stanford defeated California 8-7. Drac Wigo scored 17 goals over the weekend, including eight against Pepperdine and then four in the title-game victory over the Bruins.
Stanford In The National Rankings
After capturing the NorCal Tournament title two weeks ago at Avery Aquatic Center, Stanford took over the top spot in the Varsity Top 20 Poll. It marks the first time since the final month of the 2004 season that the Cardinal has been ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Wigo Named MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week
Senior utility Drac Wigo earned his first accolade of the 2009 season on Sept. 21 when he was named MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week. Wigo earned the honor following his stellar outing at the NorCal Invitational, where he led Stanford with 17 goals as the Cardinal captured the tournament title. His effort was highlighted by an eight-goal performance in the second round against No. 7 Pepperdine as well as with a four-goal outing in the 6-5 title-game victory over No. 4 UCLA.
Sandman Makes The Stops
Goalie Jimmie Sandman continued his fine play in the cage two weekends agao at the NorCal Invitational, coming up big with 22 stops over the final two games that included key stops of two five-meter penalty shots. Sandman's defense helped the Cardinal build a sizable lead in each game, and for the season he is averaging 8.25 saves per game and allowing just 4.88 goals per game.
Starting The Day Off Right Against UCLA
Saturday marks a rare double-dip as both the men's water polo team and the football team take on the UCLA Bruins at home. In fact, the event echoes last year's Oct. 18 in Pasadena, when Stanford men's water polo routed UCLA 12-2 in the morning but the football team dropped a heart-breaking 23-20 decision. This year, with water polo beginning at 10:30 a.m., the Cardinal can get the day started off right and then cheer as their football brethren attempt to close the sweep at 12:30 p.m. at Stanford Stadium.
Saturday's contest also marks Stanford's second game in a row against UCLA, the previous meeting coming two weekends ago in the NorCal Invitational title game. There, Stanford got out to a 6-3 lead before holding on for the 6-5 win and the tournament crown. But this Saturday, UCLA will be looking to spoil Stanford's MPSF opener as conference play gets underway.
A Family Affair
The Wigo Brothers, Drac and Janson, are never too far apart when it comes to the goals column on the stat sheet. So far this season, Drac leads the team with 28 goals while Janson is second with 18. In fact, the scoresheet from the NorCal Invitational title game may have seemed a little one-sided as the Wigos accounted for all six of Stanford's goals in the 6-5 victory over UCLA. Drac scored four times while Janson tossed in a pair.
New Faces Making Waves
Stanford is also getting contributions from many of its newer faces in the pool in 2009, namely redshirt freshman Travis Noll and true freshman Paul Rudolph, who are tied for third on the team with 11 goals. At the NorCal Invitational, Rudolph scored four goals, including a pair against Pepperdine, while Noll added a pair of his own.
Among The MPSF Leaders
Drac Wigo leads the MPSF with 3.50 goals per game through the action of Sept. 27, while brother Janson is tied for seventh with 2.25 goals per game. The Cardinal trio of Travis Noll, Paul Rudolph and Jeffrey Schwimer are all tied for 22nd with 1.38 goals per game.
On the goalkeeping side, Jimmie Sandman's 8.25 saves per game is second in the MPSF while his 4.88 goals-against average is currently sixth.
As a team, Stanford boasts the most potent offense in the conference, scoring 15.00 goals per game while on the defensive end the Cardinal is third, allowing just 5.13 goals per game.
Head Coach John Vargas
Head coach John Vargas enters his eighth year at the helm of the Cardinal program in 2009. Vargas' record at Stanford is 156-45 (.776) against the top collegiate competition in the country, and he led the Cardinal to the 2002 national title in his first year at the helm. He has also led the Cardinal to the 20-win mark five times. Under Vargas' watch, 34 Stanford water polo players have earned All-America honors, including five in 2008. Three of his former Stanford players, Tony Azevedo, Peter Hudnut, and Peter Varellas, represented the United States as part of its 2008 Olympic Team in Beijing.